6N: Best urges ref to "protect" Ireland scrum from Wales

February 23, 2018

DUBLIN (AP) Ireland captain Rory Best is urging referee Glen Jackson to ''protect'' their scrum when they play Wales in Six Nations rugby on Saturday.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt this week claimed Wales loosehead prop Rob Evans ''is a tricky customer, the angles and stepping around,'' and Best upped the ante on Friday by asserting the hosts' plans to be on their best behavior at the set-piece.

''We pride ourselves on how we scrummage and how we try to be effective, but we try to scrum square and scrum legally - or as legally as anyone can,'' Best said at the captain's run.

''The big thing for us is that if we can stay like that and keep the weight on, if other things happen to compromise the scrum going down or the scrum wheeling, that the referee takes it into consideration.

''We have shown in the past that we want to scrummage straight and we do scrummage straight, and we scrum legally. And all we ask is for that to be respected, and I suppose protected.''

Ireland's pack won't be as formidable as it could be, having lost to hamstring injuries two Lions: Tighthead Tadhg Furlong and lock Iain Henderson. That leaves rookie duo Andrew Porter and James Ryan to lock out the tighthead side of Ireland's scrum at Lansdowne Road.

Best insisted Porter can cope, despite switching from loosehead to tighthead only midway through last season.

''He doesn't look overly young for the size of him,'' Best said of Porter, who will win his fifth test cap.

''He's always learning, he's inseparable from Cian Healy here at the minute, and it's the same at Leinster. The way he prepares and goes to training, he's ready to take this step.''

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